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Manifold: Time (2000)
Stephen Baxter
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

After hearing a (rather bogus sounding) mathematical proof that civilization is headed for disaster, mathematician Cornelius Taine "sets in motion" this unusual science fiction novel that takes us through "the manifold" (Baxter's term for the collection of universes of which ours is only one point). See the review by Fernando Q. Gouvea at the MAA website for more info.

Contributed by `Texrat'

"I don't see the importance of the squid subplot, and I think NASA is underserved of the level of antagonism Baxter shows, but overall I loved the story. I am also skeptical of the speed with which the Moon was `colonized'", as well as the presence of the `Air and Space Forces'. I think Baxter makes some pretty big leaps there... bigger than his quantum speculations."

Contributed by

"I really loved this story, though I think Dr. Baxter makes some pretty optimistic jumps with what technology will be capable of in the next ten years. Intelligent, space-faring squid? A bit implausible to me. Baxter has shown some pessimism towards NASA in other works, and this one is no exception. I'd like to believe that the American space program is not dead, but it does seem to be in the shadow of it's past glories these days. As purely fiction, though, I enjoyed it immensely. This is prime Baxter for you: BIG, BIG ideas, and people who try to deal with them. Very fun to read, and I would highly recommend it to other science junkies and geeks like myself."

Contributed by Nicholas James.

"The most plausible hypothesis for the purpose of humanity I've ever encountered lies at the end of this rollercoaster of fiction."

Contributed by Jon Noble

"The mathematical prediction of the human races extinction that is central to the plot is genuine (which doesn't make it valid) and has been around for about 20 years. There are two sequels (less mathematical, but good stories) to the book."

Contributed by Kyle Ankeny

I really liked this book for the same reason I like most Stephen Baxter books, the epic plot! This one is no exception. The ending is quite rewarding after reading through the rest of the book. Let's just say that the plot really doesn't pick up until 1/2 way in or so. It is worth the read, though. Baxter has some very interesting ideas about humans and the universe...
The Carter catastrophe seems to defy common sense, but according to a number of sources, it is a real idea in statistics! Doesn't mean you have to like it, though. :)
The next book, Manifold Space, is also good. It is a bit confusing, though, unles you realize that the books take place in seperate universes where things went very differently than in the first book!
I recommed it to anyone interested in epic SF....

Contributed by Lindsay Jamieson

I was turned off this by the spurious central mathematical idea - which I had previously encountered, but not sure where. I forget the name of the theory, as I actually want to look into it more - it is invalid on grounds of logic, regardless of any mathematical merit (!) it may have. Anyway, off to see if I can find it on the net somewhere!

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Works Similar to Manifold: Time
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke / Stephen Baxter
  2. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  3. Diaspora by Greg Egan
  4. Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer
  5. Habitus by James Flint
  6. The Logic Pool by Stephen Baxter
  7. Planck Zero by Stephen Baxter
  8. Improbable by Adam Fawer
  9. Distress by Greg Egan
  10. Gödel's Sunflowers by Stephen Baxter
Ratings for Manifold: Time:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
3.08/5 (12 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.66/5 (12 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifFuture Prediction through Math,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)